By Renée Grinnell

Psychoanalytical term for the vivid, often cathartic return of painful emotion(s) from past circumstances. The patient may have been conscious of the emotion/memory beforehand, or it may suddenly emerge from repression in the subconscious.

Example: A woman in therapy for sexual difficulty recalls being raped in childhood; for the first time, she fully experiences her pain and fear surrounding the incident.

    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Sep 2008